Friday, December 12, 2008

Tis the Season: Holiday Parties=Free Food.

Just got back from my friend's holiday party at a ritzy dim sum place in SF and I gotta say I'm glad she invited me. You see, every year, my office throws a holiday shindig too, but since I telecommute for work, I'm a plane ride away, which in turn means that I also telecommute for the party..catch my drift? With the budget crunch this year, I told my boss I'll opt out from the party thing...but then there's a piece of me that misses it. Thank goodness for awesome friends who invite me to theirs..thanks ladies! Next week, another lunch that's not on me. So, how can I not love the holidays? Free booze, food and entertainment.

So, the interesting part of the whole night had to be seeing my friend's face light up as she opened her gift from the office..that's right,'s called a bonus, something that is all too foreign for me to envision. This brought me back to filling out my MBA apps. There's usually 2 boxes: one to indicate your salary and the other to indicate your bonuses. It was pretty sad (okay, I was downright depressing) as I placed a big fat "0" in the latter box b/c the entire time, I kept thinking: "Damn, other people get bonuses...unless you work in the public sector where there ain't no $$ to be had." So, I guess it's good that I'm blogging this moment b/c years from now, I hope to be perched on the other side of the can only hope, right? Yes, hope seems to be the only thing I can bank on right about now.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Up at's all good!

"Yours is the kind of love, makes nothing else feel good enough and I'm never gonna give you up...No, no!"

Okay, that's what's in my head right now. It's 4:04 am, I'm listening to Natasha Bedingfield's new album and it's going to be okay. I've got my brain juices flowing and I'm working on my Stanford essays...yay yay! I know it's been a while, but trust me, I can explain:) And you haven't slipped my mind b/c I've still been checking the ClearAdmit blogs every week...yup, still alive and kickin, guys!

It's been a week of nocturnal behavior as my days turns into nights, nights turn into MBA essays and sleep is during the days for me. What the heck? I know, many of my MBA aspirants out there can understand what I'm experiencing right now. I feel like I'm in college all over again studying for finals, but this is good stuff. It makes me feel hopeful that my future's in the works and it's going to change for the better.

Oh, before I go any further, I just wanted to say "Congrats!" to all of you who've been accepted to your choice bschools. You must be sooo excited! (I know I would be!). And for those who've receive less than steller news, don't worry..hang in there--we will all have our moments to shine (at least that what I've been, but really, it's true) At first, I felt like crap for not being so diligent in submitting my stuff in R1, but now, I'm okay and I feel that I'm going to hammer out kick-ass essays to really make it count. I've decided not to take my GMAT and I know it's going to come as a disappointment to you bloggers out there, but I put some thought into reading Tiny Dancer's post many moons ago and I think she makes a valid point of not sacrificing the essence of everything else in my app just to raise my GMAT. In any case, I've got 1 month to get my apps into all my top 4 schools since I'm leaving for a cruise to Mexico come mid-January. I'm going to take it as an early celebration of surviving the grueling app process b/c if this is the hard part, I'm thinking bschool should be just fine.

So, in case you're wondering where else I've been..I went to NYC!! hubby ran the NYC Marathon and I got to be a bandit for the last 2 least I can lay my claim that I did run part of it, right? It was too tempting to resist, but the trip did solidify (once more) my plans of applying to East Coast schools. Who does not looove the City?! It was such a packed weekend, but I did visit Columbia, except the school was closed since it was Saturday. Darn....I know, but it's all good since I've been there before and already fell in love with it since. I was in the NYU neighborhood, and I've got to admit that in terms of culture and vibe, I really enjoyed the NYU campus. Well, being a just gotta love all those good, cheap college eateries nearby....what better way to study for finals, right? Haha....anyhow, catchya later. I'm going to get back to work on my essays and possibly go to bed at 5 in the morning.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Barack the VOTE!

After a near-month hiatus, I just couldn't help but blog this moment down in history (as I'm sure whether or not the outcome is in my favor), everyone will remember November 4, 2008 in the books. Yep, so I am happy to report that I did my civic duty and for the first time in my life, I've never been so elated to see a the polls, that is! My hubby (first-time VOTER ever since he blossomed into a U.S. citizen) and I cast our ballot and with that, made our own mark in history as the 207th and 210th voters, respectively, at our polling station.

Yes, I did VOTE for CHANGE, but regardless of who you ended up voting for, I hope that each one of us realizes just how important this election is for generations of folks who've fought and perished for this historic moment as well as our own future sons and daughers, mothers and fathers, and brothers and sisters. For me, it's a resounding call for what progress truly embodies. Nonetheless, I do believe that the man who can deliver this progress comes in the form of hope and by the name of Barack Obama.

Early this morning, my friend text me this message and I hope you'll join me in passing it on:

" Rosa sat so Martin could walk...Martin walked so Obama could run...Obama is running so our children can FLY! Keep the progress going...we can only go up from HERE!"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Reinvigorated by a Website? Can it be?

Yes, I'm alive and running! Just finished another half marathon (whoo hoo!) and I guess I needed this physical journey to re-energize my run for Bschool. I'm happy to report that I rocked the entire 13.1 miles with a steady running pace...something I never thought I could ever do!

Another thing I never thought I'd ever do was add another Bschool to my current list. However, after speaking with a few people regarding my career goals and the infamous WHY MBA question, they each suggested Stanford. Up to this point, I've known Stanford has a very reputable program, but the only thing that's been preventing me from seriously considering applying to the program has been my own logistical thought process. I've been so consumed with the how the heck am I going to make it happen question that I've pretty much brushed Stanford off my shoulder. But after hearing so many people suggest this school to me, I'm going to take it as a good omen. As such, I've been rigorously perusing their site and omg...I think the folks who wrote it had people like me in mind: People who consistently doubt their own potential even after everything that's already been accomplished. Maybe that's my own fatal flaw...self-doubt.

If you read through the Stanford admission criteria (Intellectual vitality, leadership and personal qualities/contributions), you'll see what I mean--they're really trying to get folks to apply who aren't just quantitatively savvy, but also understand the inner crux of their own passions and motivations and how that applies to an MBA. I love how they reiterate that intellectual vitality is not measured through grades alone and I wholeheartedly agree with that notion. How many times have we met geniuses in their discipline only to realize these people are only good on paper? I know I'm stealing lines from "Sex on the City," but Carrie Bradshaw knew what the heck she was talking about. So, I've come to the conclusion that my saving grace will be my words...the power of my pen.

Friday, September 5, 2008

1st GMAT Attempt: DONE!

Yes, it's official...I've survived the GMAT and you know what? It wasn't so bad after all. Being an over-prepared nut like myself, I wandered to the test site yesterday as I was getting my car serviced(as it happened, the two places are just down the street from each other) just to get a feel for where I'd be headed on my happy and glorious test day. I'm so glad I did b/c as I was driving against the glare of the horrendous early morning sunshine today, I could barely see anything, much less street signs. Luckily, I remember landmarks and got to the test site with 30 minutes to spare amidst the early morning rush hour commute.

I have to say I'm pretty fortunate to have taken the test at such a clean and professional site--it makes all the difference in the world for anxious test takers everywhere. And not only that, but the room was cozy, carpeted and as luck would have it, set at a perfect temperature. The night before, I took it easy and looked over a few math concepts to refresh my memory, but other than that, I told myself that if I didn't commit any formulas to memory by now, God knows that shit won't be happening in a night. In any case, I did manage to memorize the MGMAT testing timetables to pace myself throughout the exam and yes, it helps a great deal!

So, after going through all the security mumbo jumbo that comes along with taking any standardized tests, I was left to my own accord. The 2 AWA essays were a complete joke and nothing that I even attempted to study for, but I was glad it dealt with current issues that were very much close to my heart. On one of them, it felt like I was writing an op-ed for a newspaper, so that left me with some comic relief. I really wished they'd grade and factor our AWA scores into our overall GMAT score for if that were the case, I know my crystal ball would give me a shot at seeing the likes of a 700. Aside from that and after excusing myself for my first allotted 10-min break, the quant portion wasn't anything I hadn't expected. However, the thing that did surprise me was that my MGMAT CAT exams seemed A LOT more difficult than the one staring at me on the screen. Of course, I did the best I could. I opted out of my 2nd break and instead, felt pretty good to head into my verbal portion. My biggest issue with verbal going into the exam was the careless time I spent sketching the long reading comp passages only to get half the questions correct. I decided to cut my losses early and instead, focus my attention on problems I knew I could correctly answer, namely the sentence completion ones. Otherwise, I'd be fighting with time and please believe I'd lose that battle in a heartbeat.

All in all, the final verdict wasn't bad (I'm good enough for my last choice school) but it also wasn't "WHOAH! HBS here I come great!" In other words, my final score was well above average but well below the median at the top Bschools and I'll just leave it at that. The silver lining on this cloud is that it gives me hope that I can definitely increase my score 2nd time around, which I intend to take full advantage of. For me, this is great b/c after taking 2 CAT exams from MGMAT, my scores were so dismal, I was so disheartened through it all b/c even though my learning curve peaked, my performance had much to be desired. Thus, my overall GMAT score has left me content for the amount of effort I've put in, but it also leaves me with the knowledge that I am capable of a lot more than what I initially thought possible for myself. Essentially, the GMAT is far from being a precise mechanism for measuring one's aptitude, but rather, a measure of how well one can perform under pressure when equipped with lots of studying, content knowledge, test-taking strategies and an intense desire to pursue an MBA. Go figure. That's standardized testing for ya!

And just for the record (and also so I can hold myself to this later), I will schedule my next GMAT for early November. Gotta stay committed!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Where Have I Been?

Alright, I gotta come clean. I've been up to my neck in studying for my GMAT that is coming up (much to my chagrin) in 3 days..Sept 5 is D-Day! I'm nervous, but in a way happy that I've gotten much of the core MGMAT content areas covered. I finished my MGMAT sessions about 2 weeks ago and was very pleased with both the instructors and their teaching pedagogy. I will blog my review later, but it's suffice to say that if you want a great experience preparing for the GMAT, please consider this reputable company. There is a ton of work, but it is well worth it!

So, about my MIA: Basically, I told myself that I couldn't get too bogged down with blogging and B-school research unless I could dedicate my studies to GMAT since I can kiss my chances at the top B-schools goodbye if I don't do well on this exam.

In any case, I will keep this post short since I am trying to remedy a cold before this Friday and will have to hit the gym to boost my immune system for the time being. Wish me luck (good Lord knows I'll need it) and oh yeah, before I go, just wanted to give a shout out to Clear Admit for the lovely "project" they threw my way. You guys are awesome! And thanks to Tiny Dancer's guest blogger (her hubby) for the insightful post.

Monday, August 11, 2008

2008 Beijing Olympics: Gotta Love Men's Swim!

Olympics Day 3 - Swimming

Alright, I just have to blog about the 2008 Olympics since it's pretty much captivated my entire being for the past few days. It has been, to say the least, one of the most awe-inspiring and empowering moments I've witnessed on TV; makes me want to kick myself for not planning a China trip during the Olympics, though. Well, even if you're not a sports fanatic, I don't think you can help but feel so damn proud of Team USA, especially in the mens swimming competitions. I just finished watching the U.S. beat down France in the men's 4x100 freestyle relay and OMG...I was sitting on pins and needles as Jason Lezak, against all odds, stormed to the finish in world record time---putting France to shame for the crap they've been talking! I just thought it was hilarious that the NBC commentators pegged U.S. for the silver medal and then had to eat their own words when U.S. took gold! And then Michael Phelp's hysterical reaction when Lezak touched first...priceless!
Olympics Day 3 - Swimming

I dont' think you can watch Phelp's reaction without feeling his raw emotion of pure, monumental pride and elation--at least I couldn't! You can catch the actual video at NBC as there are copyright issues for posting it anywhere else. I know I echo millions of fans everywhere when I say, " I am sooo frickin proud of you, Team USA! Michael, Jason, Garrett and guys are amazing!" Just goes to show you that anything's possible when you want something bad enough!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

GMAT Appt: Check!

It's final..a few moments ago, I just confirmed my GMAT appt for the first week in September! Damn...a whole $250 smackers just like that! I've been prolonging the inevitable, but seeing that my studies have been waning this past week, I told myself it's time to kick into high gear again and battle the beast. So, it's for real, for real...I'm going to take the GMAT and Lord help me if I receive a faltering score b/c I'll be pounding my head on the Official Guide hollering "WTF! WTF!" That'd be the worst case scenario. Best case scenario, on the other hand, would be if I make it into the 80% percentile score range for my target, let me take a moment to dream up this case (ahh (sigh) that's right..what a great feeling it would be, indeed). No, I'm not shooting for a 700, but if it happens, that'd be the optimal case scenario--for right now though, my goals are humble.

On a brighter note: I did have lunch with my former boss, who (as I blogged about before) just received her MBA. She's now going to live her dreams and have a hefty paycheck to awesome would that be one day! One can only imagine, right? As always, another token of inspiration collected for the day...why, if only I had a dollar for every token I'm collecting, I'd be able to afford all of my Bschool app fees :) Anyhow, here's a run-down of our conversation in a nutshell:

ME: I've decided to take the ultimate plunge and aim for the top Bschools! And I'm looking into programs that foster my interest in social enterprise, CSR, what have you. What are your thoughts?

MBA boss: You are so going to get in! Bschools need people like us who care about other people (ie: underprivileged peeps). And CSR and sustainability will be an integral part of MBA curriculum for sure.

ME: Oh, you flatter me. I hope CSR is not a fad like Kaballah.

MBA boss: It's not. Rich people can ignore poor people, but they can't ignore the degradation of our environment. CSR will endure.

ME: Awesome! Thanks for the inspiration.

MBA boss: No prob. You can totally do it!

:) And so, I'm left with this wonderful feeling of optimism...I'll have to bottle it up and preserve it for when I'm taking my GMAT.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Power to Dream

It's funny how one blog leads to another and another and then before you know it, you're sucked into the blogosphere! I stumbled upon this video clip from Starwalker's blog a la Tiny Dancer's recent post and what do you know? I picked up another token of inspiration. And this one truly is in it of itself. His name is Randy Pausch and until today, I didn't know who he was. For those of you who don't, you should, and for those of you who did, consider yourself blessed. I wish I had known this man when he was alive--he reminds me of my own father, both of whom possess a deep-seated belief in the goodness of humanity and the value of self-discipline. Sadly, however, Pausch passed away due to pancreatic cancer on July 25.

As my curiosity would have it, I initially clicked on the video thinking..okay, I'm only going to watch 5 minutes and then get back to work, only to be so enamored by his eloquence, enthusiasm and charisma that 5 minutes turned into a whole 75. Come know you wanna. Words cannot do justice to the impact his lecture will have on you, so see for yourself and then tell me you didn't get inspired.

Some of Pausch's words of wisdom that I heart:

"Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want."

"The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough."

"Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity."

"You cannot change the cards you are dealt, just how you play the hand."

This clip was his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon and its' great for a variety of reasons. For me, it's a reminder that good people do exist in this world and that there are those of us who have values and morals and believe that karma is an omnipresent force of nature. With all the crap we're being fed by the mass media and reality T.V. shows, I know I've sometimes lost faith in finding the good in people. It's reassuring to know that not all is lost. Moreover, Pausch also touches on life and how we, as human beings, have the power to affect change in many capacities, with the only questions being: Are we willing to do something about it? And if so, will we quit when we encounter the 'brick walls' in our endeavors or will we persevere and climb over it or better yet, knock it down!?

And most importantly, it's about dreams (both big and small) and how we can make them come true. In essence, it's about leading your life in a way that you ALLOW yourself to dream those dreams. I think that as adults, we sometimes become so jaded with life and the reality of it all, we forget to think about the days when we felt uninhibited to dream. The days as children when we were asked about what we wanted to be when we grow up and without thinking about money, grades, or any externalities, we just blurted out what first came to mind. Whatever happened to them good ole days? In the spirit of dreaming of an MBA, I think we need to put the kid back in each of us. For the past year, I've been catching up on my favorite childrens books--they're so pure, innocent and unadulterated and they all give me the power to dream (yet again). Some of the ones I absolutely adore are: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Ramona Quimby series, Freckle Juice, Fancy Nancy and so much more. Recently, I've also gotten into the Gilda Joyce series and Blue Balliet's Chasing Vermeer, the latter of which combines art, mystery, and math (go figure!) to take the reader on a journey through the eyes of sixth graders.

It's been a bit more difficult to find adult books that are worthy of my time, but quite fittingly, Professor Pausch's book, The Last Lecture, published in April and has since become a national bestseller, may just be my next great read. I'm heading to my local Barnes and Noble to peruse a copy. I'll keep you posted with my review.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Just Ran for Wine!

Whew! I survived and completed my 2nd half marathon from Napa to Sonoma! It was challenging, moreso than I initially thought! We began the day prior with a stop at two fabulous wineries in Sonoma: Kunde and Ledson; both of which were beautiful and offered wonderful hospitality. We were lucky enough to arrive just in the nick of time at the Kunde estates to receive a complimentary tour of their vineyard and wine cave which feature over 6,000 barrels of wine fermenting at a perfect 55.4 degrees. The Ledson winery had one of the most spectacular grounds I've ever witnessed...simply gorgeous gothic castle type of estate made you feel like you were rolling up to some fancy mansion for a black-tie event with Gargoyles :) After which, I attended a Pasta Party at a lovely vineyard for the charity that I'd be running for along with 700 other team-mates and 3 of my own mentees. It was very inspirational to hear about so many people who were embarking on the half marathon in honor of a friend of loved one suffering from Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis. But perhaps, the most motivational part came from the former Olympic coach/Half marathon announcer who told us that the final race participant he let in was none other than a nun from the Vatican who, only two days earlier, had climbed Mt.Whitney (an elevation of 14,505 feet to the top!). After hearing that, how could you not be juiced to run?

Race day began at 4:00am at the Cuvaison Vineyard Estate. I woke up feeling dazed and groggy, but anxious to have 13.1 miles kick my ass. And that it did! There were rolling hills pretty much throughout the entire course, but it was lined with miles upon miles of beautiful vineyards. At mile 10 and 11, I had to be sidelined twice for cramps on each calf...oh it was painful! And then...I see the nun run past me! It was too funny amidst my little injury, but a great motivating force to take me all the way to the finish. Granted, I did not make my PR, but given my condition, I was elated to make it at all. My friends and hubby had already finished, so they were snapping pictures left and right. The best part had to be running to the finish with one of my mentees who is diagnosed with Crohn's Disease...we'd been training together from the start and this was her first half. How cool is that! It was pretty awesome to receive my 2nd half marathon medal, but my calf pains were killing me and it continued for the next 3 days. ugh!

Having completed yet another feat, here is my takeaway lesson:

1) Much like my run for an MBA, running a half marathon is challenging, thrilling, empowering and full of unexpected possibilities.

A few days after the race, I was invited to speak to a group of 60 students at a bay area non-profit organization surrounding the topic of self-empowerment. Can you believe I do this for a living? It was pretty informal, but the director asked me to share my experiences regarding college and life in general. Needless to say, it went off without a hitch and (not to toot my own horn..but okay, if you insist: Toot! Toot!) I hope I sprinkled some seeds of inspiration during my visit. These students are pretty amazing already, but what touches close to home is that they really remind me of the neighborhood kids I grew up with: brimming with potential, but lacking the necessary financial and social capital to fully make their mark in society, esp. if it were not for the resources of this community-based non-profit.

In between breaks, the director and I shared our educational career plans and it just reinforced my goal for an MBA. These are the moments that make me smile and realize that not only is this the most opportune time for me, but that I'm pursuing an MBA for the right reason: My heart is definitely already there--business deserves to have people with heart...and that's something I got plenty to give!

P.S. I also just signed up for the San Jose Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon in October. If any of you are juiced to do this, let me know and I can send you a coupon code for $15 bucks off the reg. fee. :P

Thursday, July 17, 2008

HBS Info Session: The Scoop

You know the feeling you have when you're looking forward to something good? Do you have it in your mind? Okay hang on to that feeling b/c now, recall a moment when that something you were looking forward to doesn't turn out the way you expect, and I'm not talking in the good sense. This anticlimactic moment leaves you with a pang of utter disappointment, dashed hopes and the only thing you can mutter to yourself is, "DAMN, that's it?!"

Well, now you know how I'm feeling right now after getting home from the Minority HBS information session. What really sucks is that I know HBS can do better. Last year, I went to a Harvard session put on by the School of Ed and it was fabulous! It was also when I thought I'd be venturing into grad school for higher edu. Tonight's disappointment made me question my intentions for an MBA. Granted that HBS receives far too many apps than probably any other B-school in the country, you would still think that it would put more planning into hosting an event, especially in SF of all places!

Okay, you're probably wondering what exactly went down. Here goes my candid observation:

The event was held at the Medjool Restaurant & Lounge in the Mission District of SF. I've only heard of the Mission District but until today, had never been there to experience it for myself. As its name suggests, this part of town is recognized as the home of stunningly vibrant, mural-lined streets dotted with taquerias and mercados that remind me of being in Little TJ or Rosarito as a result of its predominant Latino & Spanish-speaking population. I got there 30 minutes early b/c the email indicated that registration would begin at that time. In any case, once I arrived and inquired about where I should meet up with HBS, the hostess said she didn't know but thought it would be up in the Penthouse area. So, I'm, this is nice. I speak too soon b/c as soon as I get up there, the waiter says there's no HBS group here, but kindly directs me to the mezzanine level. Apparently, nobody really knew that Harvard was in the building...when does this ever happen, right? Well, I finally spy a guy and a girl and just as I (had not) suspected, they are the only 2 hosting this event. I give them the benefit of the doubt, but notice that nothing's organized at all. There's no Harvard banner or any HBS brochures in sight, so obviously, how can anyone discern that this is Harvard and not some random people meeting up for drinks? She has nametags scattered on some low tables along with a hastily printed sign-in sheet. I guess I'm the 2nd guest to show up and she then makes it clear that this is going to be pretty informal. The only thing is: there's 52 people on the list and there's only 2 of them! I think to myself: This cannot be productive.

The biggest perk of being early is that you're able to ask your questions w/o having to compete for face time. However, even this is difficult b/c the place is so darn noisy and the set-up is such that you either have to sit on couches so low to the floor while others tower over you as they stand, or vice-versa. I elect to stand and a few more people show up before 7pm. Later I find out that other people were also under the impression that this would be a nice and somewhat formal session that would include an HBS powerpoint presentation followed by perspectives from alumni and/or current students. The emails I received didn't allude to the fact that we'd be met by only 2 current students with no plans whatsoever. Anyhow, based on our interrogation session (for lack of a better word choice b/c that's pretty much what it seemed to be), here's what I gathered:

1. Both of the students, A* & J*,have finance backgrounds and currently doing internships in the SF area (one at Genentech; the other at Accenture (I think). A* participated in the Harvard Summer Venture in Management Program prior to considering HBS and said it helped her realize that HBS was the right fit for her.

2. HBS cares a lot about leadership (and that's pretty much all I got).

3. The HBS interview (if you're lucky enough to receive one) will either make or break your candidacy, meaning the adcom has not made a final decision yet and you have the potential to sway their opinion of you if you kick ass in person. J* contrasted it to Stanford's interview, which (in his experience) pretty much tries see if you are a good fit for them, thus, he says that they've pretty much made up their mind on you already and you have very little to do with changing it. J* also mentioned Columbia and how they are, of all B-schools, so obsessed with their yield numbers and would prefer to hear you say, "YES! Columbia is not my back-up, but really my #1 and I haven't applied anywhere but here!" He says telling them you applied to other top B-schools will may likely increase your chances of being dinged!

4. A* said she is probably taking on $100K in loans. Ouch! But again, she touts the ROI is awesome in the long-run and she believes it will definitely be worth it. When asked about career services, she says there's still room for improvement. When I posed the question about the not-so-great economic forecast, she admits she is worried, but that, her professors have reminded her that the Harvard brand will sell itself, even in the midst of a brooding economy. Of all Bschools to invest in during this state of the nation, Harvard is probably the best.

5. HBS' case-study teaching methodology is pretty much 90% of the way courses are taught. This requires a great deal of work and participation on the student's end. This means that close to 50% of your grade will be based on class participation. I asked her about the grade non-disclosure policy and she said HBS has done away with it the past year. Really? However, she reassured me that when she was applying for internships this past year, none of the companies inquired about her grades.

6. HBS students are very cooperative. A* was really concerned about being in an uber-competitive business environment and found that her peers were more than willing to offer their advice and expertise. This is a major plus in my book!

Alright, I think that's all I can remember at this moment b/c I cut out after just an hour of chit chat. Writing things down makes me realize I probably took away more than I thought. However, even with this info, I'm still left with a sour taste in my mouth, but one I hope to sweeten on August 14 when I attend the MBA panel event. I double checked the description for that and they assure me it's going to be a panel of admissions reps/directors from each of the 5 major Bschools, so that makes me happy.

The students today were both nice, but somehow, I just didn't click with any of them. Maybe it's b/c none of them shared my passion for social enterprise. I guess it's Bschool...what did I imagine right? I still have HBS on my hit list b/c 2 peeps are not reflective of what I believe the program is capable of offering me. I also still plan to visit late September and network with other students who share my passion and maybe, that will salvage my taste buds for HBS.

In the meantime, I have to keep the bigger picture in mind. I know where I want to go and an MBA will undoubtedly take me there. This is just one of those potholes I can run over. (But I can't help but wonder: Is this really what I want?) I think this question will forever be on my mind until I get in somewhere (somehow).

Ahh...the thoughts that go down in this noggin of mine! Alright, so what's the lesson here folks?

1) KNOW Before YOU GO: Double check what type of info session you'll be attending: formal presentation w/Admissions or informal one with alumni/students. The optimal choice would be a mix of the two. The former is more structured and thus, for those of you who are just looking for general info, it's great. The latter is more for those who've already done research and want specifics into the life of HBS students and so forth (Is it just me or does the latter remind you of speed dating and 21 Questions? I think it kinda felt that way during the night. Weird.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gearing up for 13.1 miles!

In just 5 days, I'll be running my 2nd half marathon from Napa to Sonoma! According to Runners World, this event was voted Best Finish in 2007 since all runners are treated to a huge Wine and Music Festival at the end where we have all-access wine-tasting privileges. As much as I love the idea, I will probably forgo drinking wine at the finish b/c chances are, I will be super dehydrated and will have no desire to further intensify this physical state of exhaustion. I'm hoping, however, that the vendors will give us sample bottles to just take home or something..that would be Sa-WEET! Either way, I still plan on visiting some lovely vineyards in the Healdsburg/Sonoma area to do some wine-tasting of my own. If you have never been, I would recommend Sonoma over Napa any day because the latter, in my opinion, has became way too commercialized and snooty. Sonoma, however, retains its country charm and many of its vineyards are still family owned and, they are very friendly. If you like white wines, two of my favorites are Passalacqua and Mauritson Vineyards. And suprisingly, the Kendall Jackson vineyard estate not only features great reds and whites, but the grounds itself is so picturesque.

Thus, with less than a week away, this past weekend I attended CCFA's final group training in SF where we trekked 6 miles across the Golden Gate Bridge! Note to self: Do not eat CornNuts for breakfast on race day! I went against my better judgment and inhaled a handful of the tasty morsels before becoming uncomfortably bloated halfway through my run. I couldn't help but laugh b/c I knew I should have never done such a stupid thing! Where do my cravings come from? What a nut!

I've also realized that I'll be missing my 5th MGMAT session because the race expo will be in Sonoma on Saturday and I have to show up in person to get my bib number and timing chip. But thank you MGMAT for make-up sessions. I think it's for the better since I get to attend the Sunday class in August and the instructor is way cool! My GMAT studies have been progressing steadily. So far, so good. I have been keeping track of my mistake patterns and it pretty much boils down to 2 things: 1) careless arithmetic mistakes and 2) incorrect rephrasing of problems. Otherwise, all I need more of is practice. I will be completing my 2nd CAT test this week, so I'm a bit anxious to see my progress to date. Wish me luck!

And thanks to Clear Admit for their post, I've also signed up to attend the Wharton info session on August 5th. Coincidently, it is also the day I'll be flying down south for business, but I anticipate getting back in time to make the commute into the city for the session. If this goes well, I will opt out of the August 14 session I had originally signed up to attend. Oh, the opportunities that abound.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

On my way to B-school info sessions!

I received a lovely email from my friend who just began her summer study abroad experience in Amsterdam and as much as I wish that were me right about now, I have to admit that I'm pretty happy to not have to shell out a Euro for every 15 minutes on the net. Can you imagine? By the time I finished writing this blog, I would have paid for my B-school app fee already?!

It's funny that while others are enjoying or looking forward to long-awaited vacations in paradise with visions of sipping mai tais and pina coladas, I'm here in the middle of a heat wave diligently planning the course of my highly-anticipated and hoped-for future. But you know what? I don't feel the least bit disappointed. I feel that it's my hopes and dreams that continue to fuel my desire to always better myself in ways I've never thought possible. Every summer, I find myself undertaking a new goal and in the process of it all, I learn more and more about the real me and about what truly brings me happiness and a sense of fulfillment on a day-to-day basis. True, financial freedom would definitely bring me close to my goals. But above all else, it's my passion for life and all its trials and tribulations. I just couldn't imagine living a life of knowing that I really have no purpose but to settle for whatever I can get. So, to put me one step closer to narrowing down my B-school list, I just signed up for some info sessions in SF. And this time, I'm confirmed!

To be honest, I haven't even gotten to finalizing my hit list. I hope to keep it at 5, okay, 6 max (I promise). I have, however, made the conscious decision to apply for R2 b/c I really want to visit some of my top choices before submitting myself to the grueling application process. I've got one free roundtrip from Southwest just waiting to be used up, so I'm very fortunate for that. Additionally, come November, I will be in NYC to support my very significant other for the ING Marathon so I will definitely visit Columbia and NYU to make the most of my time. I've visited both schools before, but that's when an MBA wasn't looming over my head and I had intended to pursue an advanced degree in education. My how 4 years changes everything!

Well, here are the sessions I'll be attending:

HBS Session: July 17
Chicago GSB: July 29
Penn Club MBA Info w/Wharton, HBS, Stanford, Sloan & Kellogg: August 14

This will be my very first opportunity to rub elbows with current students and adcom members, so this should serve as a good indicator of what each school has to offer me, esp. in the realm of social enterprise!

On another great note: I'm having lunch with my other two recommenders this month and they are each very excited to hear about my plans for B-school. In fact, one of them just received her MBA in June and she's already got a job lined up! So far, things are looking up!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ignorance is NOT bliss! It's Idiotic!

I was just browsing the Business Week website to see if there were any further updates on the whole Scoretop cheating mess and I happened to come upon a comment posted by a less than bright individual (whose screen name shall go unmentioned) claiming that b/c of this particular scandal and I guess whatever stuff they've been reading, that "all Asians cheat." I think this is how his/her thought equation worked: Scoretop run by Asian + VIP members presumably mostly Asian + tendency for Asians to cheat (based on ill-conceived assumptions) = ALL Asians must cheat! My reply: In the words of Ellen Pompeo of Grey's Anatomy, "Seriously?"

Okay now, my Stat-savvy friends: does correlation always imply causality? And when do the actions of a single person or a group of people automatically justify the scapegoating of an entire race (whose cultures are so vastly different and who aren't even, I might add, linked by one common language)? Is it just me or are we all fed up with how ignorant people can be and how their thought processes have still not progressed since the Prehistoric era? Haven't we learned anything from the morally unjust internment of our Japaneses sisters and brothers about the horrendous effects of racist scapegoating?

Well, I just had to get that off my chest. As you can see, one of my biggest pet peeves, above all else, is people speaking out of their (_*_)!

But anyhow, I digress from my initial endeavor. GMAC has come out with a list of FAQs for those who are interested or concerned about their looming MBA future as a result of being VIP members of Scoretop. GMAC upholds that they have the right to cancel scores and ban you from taking it altogether if it can acquire "compelling evidence that you did seek out 'live' test questions." You can imagine how this news is affecting those involved. In fact, Business Week reports that this scandal has gotten fellow MBA aspirants sweating like hotcakes! And here I'm thinking this 100 degree heat wave is bad enough! So, remember folks: When in doubt, run the other way!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I'm Collecting...

tokens of inspiration, that is. To rewind and recap back a year ago, I began this blog to document my goal of running my very first half marathon after a lifetime of mistakingly believing that I just wasn't a runner. I set out to prove myself wrong and I am so happy I did. Now, as I continue in the same tradition, I'm "running with a dream" to pursue my MBA.

A year ago, I never imagined myself running. And now, I'm gearing up for my 2nd half marathon in Napa in just two weeks' time to benefit the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. I'm even mentoring a group of awesome ladies who will be embarking on their 1st half. I'm ecstatic, but my own training has been sporadic. Well, after all, the air quality in Nor Cal has been extremely unhealthy as a result of the wildfires and this week, it got icky hot. In any case, after a day of gorging like a malnourished fool in celebration of our Nation's day of birth, I just had to run! At the butt crack of dawn on Saturday, I set out to prove to myself that once a runner, always a runner (hey, it's just like riding a bike, right?) The answer: yes it is. You just have to commit to running and you'll get there soon enough.

And run I did. 11 miles to be exact! The weather was perfect for running: no scorching sun, but a much-appreciated overcast with a blanket of fog and mist hugging Ocean Beach as I made my way along the Great Highway to Lake Merced and back again. Wow! I couldn't believe that I ran non-stop (well.. except to tie my hair, but that doesn't count in my book:) .

I bring up this story b/c as I and everyone else who is embarking on a journey to pursue what is right now a dream, but may very soon become real and tangible within a year's time, we all have to stay committed and focused on the bigger picture. I realized this not just from my 11 miles, but as I have been perusing through admissions essay topics, I've really had to dig deep within myself and do quite a bit of soul-searching. I've only begun to crack the applications, but even so, I realize that entire app process will be demanding, challenging and at times, perhaps even draining. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the plethora of information that's being put out there on the blogosphere, but at the end of the day, I am utterly grateful to have so much support from those who have such obscure identities but possess such vivid personalities.

For many of us, the idea of pursuing an MBA was probably never something we aspired to achieve, at least it wasn't in my case. As I contemplate a concise and compelling way to present my on-paper self to the adcoms, I am compelled to think back to the one moment in time when that light bulb lit up above my head and I actually BELIEVED that this idea was possible. I know we all had it otherwise we wouldn't be blogging about it, right? So, I encourage you to do a bit of introspective analysis and rewind back to that moment. I believe that it is from those seemingly insignificant moments that we have the most profound epiphanies. I know I did.

So, along the way, I'll be collecting random tokens of inspiration to keep me on the right track to an MBA...wherever it may lead, there's only way way to go from here...and that's up!

BTW: The HBS Women's Info Session contact did email back and was also shocked at the "gone in 13 minutes" status of the session. I guess the limited space had to do with the fact it's hosted by the Womens Association at HBS and there's only going to be 2 reps there to speak with everyone. In any case, I'll be keeping in contact with her and come late Sept. when I visit HBS, It'll be nice to aim for a more intimate discussion with her. Hope springs eternal...I will not give up!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

HBS Info Session: Full in 13 minutes!?

Arrghh...I've been visiting the HBS website practically everyday hoping that the registration for their SF events open up soon. So, you can imagine my delight when I get an email from HBS Admissions announcing that the Womens info session in SF is now open. I get this email at 1:18 PM (PST) but I dont' get a chance to read it until 13 minutes later and when I click on the link to register, IT'S FULL! I'm like, "What the Feezy? Already?" Currently, I am waitlisted, but not before I sent an email to the contact inquiring if it was due to some glitch in the system that the session filled up in record time. Today, still no reply, except a confirmation that I'm still on the waitlist. UGH! I even try the link again and this time, the message reads that the registration is closed due to full occupancy...that's crazy right?! I'm thinking I should just show up. I've been to these types of info events before and usually, nobody gets turned away...but we'll see.

Monday, June 30, 2008

I Get It!!

I spy purple, green, red, yellow, orange, blue, so hmm...where am I? In the Skittles candy factory? Well, no I didn't get to taste the rainbow, but I got to see it in person this weekend at none other than the Pride Parade in SF! The best was probably a gi-normous float on the back of a tow truck...not sure how they worked their magic to make that happen, but it was sure fun to watch! It felt like Bay to Breakers all over again, except folks were also celebrating their new-found freedom to wed.

Anywho, back to what I'm supposed to be writing about: GMAT. I had my 3rd and 1st session this past weekend. Like I told you days ago, I missed the first class, so MGMAT let me make it up...yay! I'm so glad I did. I spent the entire last week working on the quant section (inequalities, absolute value, blah blah) and I finally GET IT! So, I also started doing more data sufficiency questions and since I missed class one, I was totally at a loss...but after taking my make-up session, I also FINALLY GET DS! The methods MGMAT teaches really do work in increasing my overall understanding of the subject matter. The only real problem I have (and will continue to work on fixing) is that I get stumped by the question which sucks b/c it's easier than they make it look. Like I mentioned earlier in my postes, GMAT questions always come with a funky disguise and until you learn to recognize their disguises, they'll totally stump even the savviest quant nerd.

And just another plug for MGMAT: Their instructors are so frickin awesome! In sum, I spent a total of about 7 hours in class this weekend and mark my words: the hours just breezed by like nothing! The interactive style of the class made learning quite fun I'd have to say (and this is coming from a person who took naps during afternoon 3-hr college lectures). Again, another positive affirmation that my 1390 smackers is oh so worth it! I'm not a fan of online courses, so I'm also really fortunate that MGMAT has an SF office, or else I'd be left with little choice. I guess my advice to you is that nothing beats the face-to-face interaction you get when you sign up for an actual class. Virtual courses, at best, should be a last resort because for someone like me, the classroom setting matters a whole lot in terms of allowing me to focus on a particular subject matter. Now, since my next session isn't until 2 weeks (thanks to our nation's birthday), I have some time to stretch out my studies without feeling that I'm being victimized by the GMAT. Wow...what a relief!


First and foremost: Time management is key to acing the GMAT. Always practice with a stopwatch or timer to make sure you're completing each question within the alloted time (I believe it's up to 2 min for Quant Q's and 1.5 min for Verbal)

1. Learn and re-learn ALL the math/verbal concepts with the MGMAT strategy guides
AND do most (if not all) of the practice problems AND check your answer!

2. Keep track of ALL your mistakes (a pattern will develop and you'll begin to hone in on your problem areas)

3. Understand WHY you got a question wrong. This is very important! If you don't know why a problem is wrong, you'll have a very difficult chance of getting the question right the next time you see it in a different "disguise"

4. Once you have mastered 2 or 3 concepts (either quant/verbal), practice with questions from the Official Guide for GMAT Review, 11th Edition.

5. Take practice GMAT CAT exams

6. Practice, Practice and Practice more Official Guide problems

7. Take the GMAT with confidence! (Don't forget to register at least 1 month in advance!)

Friday, June 27, 2008

GMAT Cheating Scandal Update: Woes to Cheaters

Business Week just released an update concerning the future of MBA applicants and students who knowingly sought out "live" test questions aka "jungle juice" (JJ) via ScoreTop. What does this mean? The dreams of over 6000 VIP members of ST will be in jeopardy as GMAC begins investigating ST forums to determine who knowingly posted or sought out JJs. I cannot begin to fathom what must be going through the minds of these students right now. Compared to the potential fate that awaits these folks, it makes me think that studying for the GMAT is a cakewalk. More details to come...I'm sure! BTW: The original story was posted earlier this week.

Letters of Rec: Check!

I was flown in for a meeting with my boss today and I finally broke the news to her that, after contemplating my career path for some time, I've decided to pursue my dream of getting an MBA. And the best part was that she couldn't have been more supportive of my decision. I'm so psyched! Since she's had experience serving on grad school adcoms, she even told me she understands that each letter has to be catered for each school I'm applying to b/c in the end, it's really about the "fit" of the B-school to my own career goals. I couldn't be more happier since I had been a bit nervous about asking her to write me 5 individual letters of rec to each of the my target schools. From what I've read, your letters of rec (LoR) can make or break your application. Thus far, I already have my other recommender lined up, so this is great. I'm now wondering about my 3rd (b/c I think I may need a 3rd in some instances)...hmm...who to ask?

I guess for now, I will have to compile a handy info pack for my recommenders so that I can make their job as seamless as possible. I think I'll include the following:

1. Why I want an MBA (Goals essay, I suppose)
2. Background info of each MBA program and how it fits me
3. Timeline of Deadlines for each program
4. My professional accomplishments
5. Whatever else to eliminate the guesswork on their end

Okay, now on to the most challenging (but probably most significant) part of my app: 1. ESSAYS and Introspective Analysis of Me and oh yeah, the GMAT.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

GMAT Cheating Scandal...Oooh, No You Didn't!

Many of you, like myself, who have high hopes of joining the ranks of the Class of 2011 at top B-schools are probably studying profusely for your GMAT in preparation for R1/R2 deadlines. Last night, as I racked my brain with data sufficiency questions, I came down with this nasty feeling in my guts like I was going to hurl GMAT at any moment. Needless to say, I went to bed with this queasy feeling in my stomach, lulled to sleep by incessant thoughts of how much more studying I could possibly endure for the next 2 months. I haven't set my GMAT date yet, but plan to take the dreaded exam by late August after my MGMAT course. I'm sure many of you share my sentiments and as such, the thought of getting your hands on live test questions may have wandered into your mind now and again. Well, you might want to rethink those thoughts b/c in the end, it will bite you in the A$$! Case in point:

There's huge buzz circulating on sites like Clear Admit and Business Week in regards to the GMAT cheating scandal that was recently uncovered. Apparently, a site called Scoretop that's been in operation since 2003 has been leaking "live" questions to its subscribers. Now, I'm not sure how this works b/c the GMAT is a computer-adaptive exam and it spits out questions from its vast storehouse based on your previous answer, but either way, it sure sucks to be anyone who's going to be caught up in this mess. This just makes me think twice (no, maybe thrice) about joining forums and online sites that claim to do great things to help you ace the GMAT. I know there might be those who may have haphazardly subscribed to Scoretop w/o even realizing that they were attempting to cheat the system, so my heart goes out to you. But for the rest of you, you know what you did....karma sucks and I'm a firm believer that what comes around will inevitably go around and when it does, you better watch out. GMAC plans to obtain the names of all Scoretop subscribers and have
their test scores canceled, their schools notified, AND (here's the kicker) the student will not be permitted to take the test again...OUCH! Talk about a dream deferred...this is a dream denied! More to come in regards to how the top B-schools will be responding to this scandal...I can't wait!

Wow...who would have thunk it? Business and ethics do intersect! There is an ethical code of conduct involved in everything we do and if you attempt to circumvent the system, well, shame on you, esp. since so many of us are working up a sweat trying to study and do things the right way to earn a well-deserved GMAT score. So, for all you crazed, die-hard, study-like-your-depended-on-it B-school-bound nuts out there, I applaude you and wish you the very best in your B-school endeavors! Good luck..we'll get there soon!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hello Summer, Hello MGMAT

To commemorate the official first (bloody HOT) day of summer (June 21), the weather forecasts predict a sweltering 105 degrees in pretty much all parts of Nor Cal...and to celebrate this glorious occasion, I spend 3.5 hours of my day sitting in the Flood Building in SF enduring my first GMAT course. I do a cost-benefit analysis (I know, big DORK) of whether or not to drive into SF, and then decide to BART my way instead since there's just nothing like public transportation in the bay: hoards of everyone and their mother (and child) swarming to grab a seat on the trains and bums entertaining passersby in each station with their music and random acts of whatever---like I said, nothing like it. Since it's my first day (well, I registered a week late), I'm not sure what to bring to class, so I decide to bring EVERYTHING (I figure let's error on the side of over-preparedness) and damn, it's a heavy load!

I arrive 30 minutes early and meet my instructor...he seems cool, now let's hope the man can teach! Prayers answered as soon as class starts since this guy actually knows the shit and he can TEACH the shit as well. Yay for competency! I had read reviews of other instructors at Kaplan and Princeton who pretty shall we say it..sucked! I'm happy this guy does not since MGMAT requires that ALL of their instructors score in the 99th percentile and have prior teaching experience. Since I missed the first class (which MGMAT will let me make up next week), I didn't get a chance to go over the homework, but the course is taught like an intimate college discussion section where they ASSUME that since you paid big bucks to be here, you are committed and will do your homework prior to class. Today, we are going to learn to master subject-verb agreement and critical thinking. He presents the question and then we're given 1.5 minutes to select our answer. Afterwards, by a show of fingers we each silently indicate our answer choices. He then does a cold call and selects one person to go over his/her thought process involved in selecting the answer. Pretty cool and the best part is that he doesn't care if you got the answer right or wrong but makes a point of allowing you to see (if your answer was wrong), what went wrong and if it was right, if you used the proper techniques for reaching your conclusion. Throughout the class, he keeps reiterating the fact that we shouldn't be discouraged if we're not getting the right answers b/c it's all about what we learn in class and how we can do better as the course progresses. So far, so good! And FYI: I do pretty damn well on the verbal!

But that feeling of accomplishment is fleeting as soon as we enter the Quant Section....ugh! We are introduced to integers, divisibility and prime numbers and as soon as he began putting up the questions, I seriously felt like a I was staring at a fat pink elephant speaking in tongues. You know it's an elephant but you don't know where it came from or what to do with it...I was just like, "HUH? WTF? This is not cool!" Like any standardized test, the math portion will always perplex me b/c no matter how much you know the material, the manner in which the question is posed will always stump you b/c they disguise it in something that looks much more complicated, or in my case, weird! I hope that by the end of this course, I'll learn to recognize these pink elephants...let us hope, right? So my first day in class, I conclude:

A. Verbal--I'm good, but I need to be great!
B. Math--I suck, so I need to suck less--a LOT less!
C. Instructor--Cool guy with great teaching methods, so let's hope this continues
D. MGMAT--So far, worth my $$ and again, let's pray this also continues
E. Studying for the GMAT--Like my life depended on it!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Am I MBA Material?

This is a question that frequently pops into my head as I continue to update my blog. Okay, I went to Cal (against all odds!) and you'd think I'd be as confident as anyone who graduated from the much-touted "#1 public university in the world!" But alas, my own self-doubt creeps in and lingers in the background, like the presence of a nasty ingrown hair..ick! I feel like Will Smith in an episode of the "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" as he contemplates whether or not to defy uncle Phil. In my mind's eye, I see two 'mini-me's perched on my shoulder; one optimistic angelic version that's telling me to "Dream Big" and think back to the time when I was applying to colleges and never even dreamed that Cal would take a look at my app, whereas the other 'mini-me is a horned little devil wielding a pitchfork and poking my neck, while all the time snarling, "What the heck are you thinking? Are ya nuts? How can you ever manage a 700 on your GMAT! You didn't even graduate with any honors!" Ugh! As much I've tried to knock the little brat off my shoulder, I can't help but feel the evil mini-me's effect on me (oh, the irony of it all!). I think what I'm experiencing has a lot to do with what sociologists term as lacking "social capital." Those of us who weren't brought up with a sense of entitlement often lack the resources to tap into places of privilege.

But with every eerie cloud, there is a silver lining. Mine comes in the form of the blogs I've been blogstalking to the right of the screen. I don't even know these people, but I feel a connection to them already, as they've already been there and done this or are going through the same thing as we speak. I am hopeful that whatever MBA program I ultimately get accepted into, my future classmates are as welcoming and REAL as my fellow bloggers have been to me.

Oftentimes (and more than I'd like to admit), I, too, am consumed by the stats of getting into an MBA program: How competitive is my GMAT score? What if I don't have a 700? What if I didn't graduate summa cum laude? And then you hear about the overachieving dorks who complain about 740 GMATs and have unbelievably stellar resumes at major corporations and my next question is the one we've all been asking ourselves: What are MY chances of getting in? Do I even have a shot in hell of getting into places like Wharton, Chicago and Harvard?

Honestly, I wish I could tell myself "Yes! You are frickin awesome! You are SOO going to get in anywhere!" But I know doing so would be a big fat lie, well except for the me being awesome part:) But here's what I can say and I'm sure you can empathize with me. "I'm going to keep it real and do the very best I can to ace the GMAT and show the adcoms that there's nobody else like me out there who has more passion and heart for advancing educational access and equity for under-served and under-represented people of color than me! And with that comes power and perseverance to pursue my dream of getting an MBA." If you're reading this, I know you've already joined me in lending your unwavering support for this endeavor and for that, I'm ever so thankful. So, shall we knock the little devil off her perch now?

Researching MBA programs

So I've been up to my neck google-ing, blogstalking and webstalking to get the dish on which MBA program I may be applying to for Fall 09. After much online research and thanks to a knowledgeable and highly motivated community of prospective and current MBA bloggers, I've narrowed my choices down to 5. After weighing the pros and cons of full-time and part-time MBA programs, I've decided that if I get admitted into a CA program close to home, I will go ahead and pursue a part-time MBA. However, why not give myself the benefit of the doubt and aim for some of the top 10 out-of-state full-time MBA schools? I've been going back and forth, forth and then back again on this decision b/c of 1 major reason: I have a mortgage to keep up and with the icy real estate market in CA, I know selling is not an option.

So why, then, aim for the stars? Hmm...maybe because I've learned that one can only achieve the unforeseeable by dreaming the impossible...and each and every day I go out to speak with students on pursuing an education, I am constantly reminded of my own advice to them: "NEVER shut the door of opportunity on yourself! You'll never know unless you strive!" So, when it comes to my own goals, why not practice what I preach? I can't think of any reason not to....except for the bling bling factor, but even there, I know things will look up. (Let's think good thoughts:)

Another reason for my consideration of out-of-state MBA programs is this: It's probably going to produce the biggest return on investment and if I'm opting for something outside CA, it better we worth it! That for damn sure! As to which ones...keep on reading my blogs to find out! And this may change as well since my GMAT performance will be a HUGE factor in my final decisions. I just took an assessment GMAT and let's just say I'm sure glad I'm going to my Manhattan prep course tomorrow! :) Let's see what happens....I can only go up from here!

Monday, June 16, 2008

GMAT here I come!

Alright, so after countless hours perusing around at the U of Google, and blogstalking MBA reviews, I have finally buckled down and handed over 1390 smackers to the makers of Manhattan GMAT. I swear this better pay off...or else..well, I don't know what the heck to do. I'm not a fan of standardized testing, much less shelling out big bucks for the mere prospect of acing them, but I have to admit that when it comes to increasing my odds of being admitted into my top MBA programs, I had to bow down and put aside my otherwise biased and unsettling views of the test-prep companies. One reason being that I CANNOT afford to NOT get into any MBA program for Fall 2009.

Another reason? Well, after nearly a year of contemplating long and hard over my future career prospects and where I see myself in a decade or so from now, I realized that although my heart lies in education and access, I don't see my financial security lying there as well. And then I began to ask myself: "Is being immersed in higher ed the one and only way of impacting change OR (lightbulb over my head) can I create change and generate greater impact elsewhere in a more propituous sector of society?" As I ruminated over my response to this question, my dear friend, JC was on the verge of completing her MBA program at Davis and she, like me, had her stint in the non-profit world for quite some time and please believe, you don't go in wishing to be a millionaire when you enter this arena. So, as much as she loved her job, she also marveled at the idea that she could one day comfortably afford to rent in the highly-overtly priced bay area, drive her car without having to calculate the horrendous price of gas to whatever destination she decided AND low and behold, have the liberty of shopping for organic (oftentimes costly) and sustainably-harvested food items that help us lead a greener lifestyle. Now is that too much to hope for? She encouraged me to see the business world as a channel for affecting change in the social sector, but also as a means for people like us to afford the everyday necessities we oftentimes are compelled to deem as luxuries given the state of our economy nowadays. So, eventhough I have never endeavored to consider applying to any MBA program, I realize that maybe it's time for me; that maybe, there must be a good reason why I haven't applied to any graduate programs to date and that maybe, my future lies in an MBA program that will take me 3 years worth of my life to complete.

I begin my first GMAT prep course this coming Saturday, so I'm excited to see what my 1K and then some has brought for me. It better be good. Stay tuned.